Published: Sun, June 17, 2018
Money | By Wilma Wheeler

Elon Musk Outlines How His Chicago ‘Loop’ Transport Will Work

Elon Musk Outlines How His Chicago ‘Loop’ Transport Will Work

Elon Musk's Boring Co has been selected to build an underground transportation system in Chicago, connecting the downtown Loop to O'Hare airport.

"We're really excited to work with the Mayor and the City to bring this new high-speed public transportation system to Chicago!" the Boring Company tweeted late Wednesday after reports emerged that it had been chosen. But the Chicago Tribune cited comments from Mayor Rahm Emanuel about the decision to go with Musk's bid.

Known as the Chicago Express Loop, the new system will feature "electric skate" vehicles that will whisk passengers through underground tunnels at speeds up to 150 miles per hour, according to The Boring Co.'s website.

The privately-funded project, which will reportedly cost $1 billion, will require an injection of capital into the company. "Tunnel construction and operation will be silent, invisible and imperceptible at the surface", the company said. Given that a journey to O'Hare Airport is usually a 40-minute trip along the city's blue line, this is an extremely bold claim.

Musk held a town hall-style meeting in the affluent LA suburb of Bel-Air last month to ease fears among residents skeptical of the tech billionaire's plan to dig tunnels under their neighborhoods. "I mean it's cheaper than an Uber, cheaper than driving your vehicle and parking so definitely anything we can get is an improvement especially with the city's proposal for expanding O'Hare", said Blue Line rider Nick Assaloni.

The company said it will fund the project in its entirety, and that it plans to collect ticket and advertising revenue.

According to The Boring Company, the 8-wheeled vehicles will operate 20 hours a day, seven days a week, and every 30 seconds there will be a vehicle departing from a particular station.

Officials from city and Boring have stated that it's too soon to estimate a timeframe or final cost for this project, but have stated that Boring will be fronting the bill.

Musk in May pitched a similar underground tunnel system in Los Angeles, and has proposed another that would link Washington DC and Baltimore. The estimated cost and timeline to complete the project are yet to be determined, but a source familiar to The Boring Company's proposal said the firm has estimated the project cost to be less than $1 billion.

The press conference largely centered around how the project will impact Chicago.

But Musk said look at his track record: building the Tesla cars and the Space X program from scratch.

It's a sizable victory for a company that was launched just 18 months ago, is working with unproven futuristic ideas, and - aside from a test tunnel it is digging in the Los Angeles suburb Hawthorne, California - lacks construction experience. It hopes to lower the costs of tunneling in part by narrowing the diameter of tunnels for such high-speed projects.

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